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F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Contains threads on Joint Service equipment of the past, present and future.

How do you feel about the F-35B for the RN and RAF? (2 votes per member)

GOOD choice for the Royal Navy
124
44%
BAD choice for the Royal Navy
11
4%
Uncertain (RN)
14
5%
GOOD choice for the Royal Air Force
54
19%
BAD choice for the Royal Air Force
38
13%
Uncertain (RAF)
41
15%
 
Total votes: 282

Ron5
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Ron5 » 25 Jun 2020, 16:18

I'm curious, as a point of reference and because block 4 contains Meteor integration, how much is in the budget to integrate Meteor with Typhoon?

I don't mean base development of the missile itself but how much to develop the Typhoon & typhoon radar software & hardware modifications, trials, certification, actual aircraft changes etc.? and over how many airframes?

Anybody know?

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby SW1 » 25 Jun 2020, 16:43


Ron5
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Ron5 » 25 Jun 2020, 16:57

SW1 wrote:According to gov 85m pounds

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.u ... v1_1-O.PDF


Not hardly dude, that's just the money left to be spent on something that's supposed to already be in service. What's the total that's been spent? over how many airframes?

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby SW1 » 25 Jun 2020, 17:14

It’s all there page 51 I’m sure you’ve been able to read it.

Or are you talking project centurion or what.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 26 Jun 2020, 10:19

I know that these are not the exact original words, but by a seasoned journalist (from the DID that just popped up in my inbox):
" Answering a question in the House of Commons Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Jeremy Quin, said that, while the international Block 4 (full combat) upgrade has been costed into the UK’s procurement programme, the precise numbers of already-delivered jets to go through the retrofit process have not yet been decided."
- so for all of that to be true, as the Block 4 cost estimate jumped by 300% in less than a year
- assuming all other than the test a/c were costed with the upgrade, it will be 1 in 4. Or? - there was, though, some optimism about the last baker's dozen of them being delivered in "operational condition"

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Lord Jim » 26 Jun 2020, 13:23

The way things seem to be going across the MoD as a whole I think we are going to see at most 24 aircraft having the Block 4 upgrade. Like the Typhoon force we will have a "Gold plated" force of aircraft available for operational use with the remainder of the fleets used for training and other non operational tasks.

Though off topic but in a similar way, with the Army I can see BATUS not receiving any upgraded or new platforms, but rather using existing platform to simulate these, and the training to concentrate on operation tactics. In addition I could see a company Battle Group sized Sim Net being established at a location in the UK to train personnel to use their new and upgraded vehicles to their maximum, similar to what the US Army does but on a smaller scale.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Ron5 » 26 Jun 2020, 17:38

SW1 wrote:It’s all there page 51 I’m sure you’ve been able to read it.

Or are you talking project centurion or what.


Many apologies, I fell into the common language trap of thinking "costs to completion" meant just the money left to be spent in order to complete the project. I have a vague recollection of doing the same previously. Anyhow, thanks for steering me in the right direction.

I assume the number of upgraded airframes is a state secret.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Ron5 » 26 Jun 2020, 17:41

Lord Jim wrote:The way things seem to be going across the MoD as a whole I think we are going to see at most 24 aircraft having the Block 4 upgrade. Like the Typhoon force we will have a "Gold plated" force of aircraft available for operational use with the remainder of the fleets used for training and other non operational tasks.

Though off topic but in a similar way, with the Army I can see BATUS not receiving any upgraded or new platforms, but rather using existing platform to simulate these, and the training to concentrate on operation tactics. In addition I could see a company Battle Group sized Sim Net being established at a location in the UK to train personnel to use their new and upgraded vehicles to their maximum, similar to what the US Army does but on a smaller scale.


Lord Eeyore :D

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby SW1 » 26 Jun 2020, 19:44

A number of thinks in the carrier report specific to f35

1.16 As at April 2020, the Department had spent £6.0 billion on the Lightning II project, out of an approved budget of £10.5 billion.14 The Department has increased the approval limit four times since we reported in 2017, an increase of £1.4 billion (15%). It has a strategy of incremental acquisitions, and the approvals were for capability upgrades, integration of UK weapons and sustainment costs (Figure 4).

In 2013, the Department estimated that the total cost of 48 jets over their whole life – to 2048 – would be £18.425 billion.


1.17 Future costs remain uncertain and could increase because of: the number of jets ordered by partner nations, which may change. The UK’s share of the costs of the international programme is determined by the proportion of the total number of jets it purchases. This can vary if other nations change their order. The recent suspension of Turkey from the programme will increase the UK’s costs by approximately £80 million over the life of the programme, foreign exchange rate fluctuations, as project costs are in US dollars.
The Department has mitigated foreign exchange rate volatility until 2022-23 by using forward purchase contracts with the Bank of England.

However, in January 2020, Air Command found that if the then current exchange rates persisted, costs would be £0.8 billion higher; and additional funding needed to upgrade the fleet with the new software, weapons and training. The Department has already increased programme costs to include some upgrades and integrate weapons. But there have been delays in making funding provisions which mean the jets will have the full suite of weapons later than originally planned.

The Department’s decision to buy 138 jets will enable it to support a continuous Carrier Strike capability to the 2060s. However, it has not yet decided whether to purchase more than its current commitment of 48 jets.

Air Command is assessing its future force mix – including the number and type of Lightning II jets it needs – as part of its Combat Air Strategy. The Department will then consider options as part of the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.

Purchasing more jets will create additional financial pressures over the next 10 years as the Department has only set aside funding to 2025-26 to buy 48.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Ron5 » 27 Jun 2020, 01:04

SW1 wrote:A number of thinks in the carrier report specific to f35

1.16 As at April 2020, the Department had spent £6.0 billion on the Lightning II project, out of an approved budget of £10.5 billion.14 The Department has increased the approval limit four times since we reported in 2017, an increase of £1.4 billion (15%). It has a strategy of incremental acquisitions, and the approvals were for capability upgrades, integration of UK weapons and sustainment costs (Figure 4).

In 2013, the Department estimated that the total cost of 48 jets over their whole life – to 2048 – would be £18.425 billion.


1.17 Future costs remain uncertain and could increase because of: the number of jets ordered by partner nations, which may change. The UK’s share of the costs of the international programme is determined by the proportion of the total number of jets it purchases. This can vary if other nations change their order. The recent suspension of Turkey from the programme will increase the UK’s costs by approximately £80 million over the life of the programme, foreign exchange rate fluctuations, as project costs are in US dollars.
The Department has mitigated foreign exchange rate volatility until 2022-23 by using forward purchase contracts with the Bank of England.

However, in January 2020, Air Command found that if the then current exchange rates persisted, costs would be £0.8 billion higher; and additional funding needed to upgrade the fleet with the new software, weapons and training. The Department has already increased programme costs to include some upgrades and integrate weapons. But there have been delays in making funding provisions which mean the jets will have the full suite of weapons later than originally planned.

The Department’s decision to buy 138 jets will enable it to support a continuous Carrier Strike capability to the 2060s. However, it has not yet decided whether to purchase more than its current commitment of 48 jets.

Air Command is assessing its future force mix – including the number and type of Lightning II jets it needs – as part of its Combat Air Strategy. The Department will then consider options as part of the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.

Purchasing more jets will create additional financial pressures over the next 10 years as the Department has only set aside funding to 2025-26 to buy 48.


Worth noting that the costs of the international program (due to increase because of Turkey's departure) are not related to the development or purchase of actual aircraft. They are to cover the international "owners club" administration and other costs. As noted, they are split by each countries declared buy which also gives an indication (no more) of the relative importance/influence of each country within the program.

Also worth noting is that the UK is far from unique in not actually committing money to all the declared purchases. For one, the US hasn't either.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 27 Jun 2020, 05:37

SW1 wrote:Air Command is assessing its future force mix

This has been coming since at least 2017 (Tempest had been set in train 1.5 yrs bfr the great fanfare for it was arranged during the UK airshow - no opportunity available every year)
- buy the ozzie wingman so we get 48+48 :)
- though it will not help much :( with giving the carriers their weapon system... so that they are not just expensive toys for showing off

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby SW1 » 27 Jun 2020, 10:58

ArmChairCivvy wrote:
SW1 wrote:Air Command is assessing its future force mix

This has been coming since at least 2017 (Tempest had been set in train 1.5 yrs bfr the great fanfare for it was arranged during the UK airshow - no opportunity available every year)
- buy the ozzie wingman so we get 48+48 :)
- though it will not help much :( with giving the carriers their weapon system... so that they are not just expensive toys for showing off


It’s been coming for a very long time and has ramifications way up the political chain in the direction of travel.

I wouldn’t be buying the Aussie wingman if there is one section of the future offensive air system that more than any other offers uk industry particularly SME to design, develop and integrate an air vehicle using uk sensor, propulsion, weapon tech then it is the loyal wingman area and an area with significant export potential as its applicable to any supporting manned platform.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Caribbean » 27 Jun 2020, 13:22

SW1 wrote:I wouldn’t be buying the Aussie wingman

If they recently transferred design data to the UK, it sounds as if we might be looking to do a similar deal to the one we did with them over the T26, which would indicate that we would plan to build the airframes locally, but with UK payloads (and possibly engines etc)
The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
Winston Churchill

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 27 Jun 2020, 15:33

Caribbean wrote: it sounds as if we might be looking to do a similar deal to the one we did with them over the T26, which would indicate that we would plan to build the airframes locally


That's how I see it, building a bridge from F-35 (a lot of investment has gone into it) to Tempest in whatever form that one will deliver. There is no saying now about the best mix of manned/ unmanned, but by the time we will hit 2040s we better have both bases covered
... while squeezing the very best out of the stealth fighter part of our overall fleet. Not least because it is the newest part of it (with carriers, wingmen - whatever it takes. As it is sensible to protect an investment you cannot afford to repeat, over its life span).

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Ron5 » 27 Jun 2020, 16:27

Hard to believe the RAF is considering purchase of a different F-35 variant anymore as NAO implies.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby SW1 » 27 Jun 2020, 17:55

Caribbean wrote:
SW1 wrote:I wouldn’t be buying the Aussie wingman

If they recently transferred design data to the UK, it sounds as if we might be looking to do a similar deal to the one we did with them over the T26, which would indicate that we would plan to build the airframes locally, but with UK payloads (and possibly engines etc)


There was a agreement with Boeing that they could share information. But the size and scale of Uk Aerospace and maritime industries is very different to Australia’s. It may well be sharing more to do with the controlling software in the background.

It think it would become politically difficult to import such a design when thousands of jobs are being lost in the uk and uk based companies are working on competing designs.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Timmymagic » 29 Jun 2020, 12:46

I've revised the data in this list following the NAO report from the other day... typical...out of date within a day or so..

Amendments highlighted in red font since last time:

So of the UK's '48' here's the status:
Note - Delivery is 'usually' a minimum of 2 years after order.

Delivered to date

LRIP 1 - April 2007 - No UK Orders, (US F-35A only)
LRIP 2 - July 2007 - No UK Orders (6 F-35B for USMC, first F-35B order)
LRIP 3 - May 2008 - 2 x UK F-35B order - Test aircraft for ITF (not combat capable)
LRIP 4 - Nov 2009 - 1 x UK F-35B order - First 'Combat Capable' aircraft - BK-03
LRIP 5 - Dec 2011 - No UK Orders
LRIP 6 - Sept 2013 - No UK Orders
LRIP 7 - Sept 2013 - 1 x UK F-35B Order - Additional Test aircraft for ITF (not combat capable)
LRIP 8 - Nov 2014 - 4 x UK F-35B Order
LRIP 9 - Nov 2015 - 6 x UK F-35B Order
LRIP 10 - 2016 - 3 x UK F-35B Order
LRIP 11 - 2017 - 1 x UK F-35B Order

Total - 18 Delivered

On Order, Not delivered - Note LRIP's 12, 13 and 14 were done together as a 'Bulk Buy'

LRIP 12 - Nov 2018 - 3 x UK F-35B Order - These will be delivered in late 2020
LRIP 13 - Nov 2018 - 6 x UK F-35B Order - Likely to be delivered in 2021
LRIP 14 - Nov 2018 - 8 x UK F-35B Order - Likely to be delivered in 2022

Total - 17 contracted

Next Steps
Full Rate Production Orders (FRP) - Will be placed once pricing agreed

FRP Delivery 1 - 2023 - 2 x UK F-35B
FRP Delivery 2 - 2024 - 4 x UK F-35B
FRP Delivery 3 - 2025 - 7 x UK F-35B
- These were all previously expected by 2024 at latest

Total - 13 Promised/Confirmed

This gives the total of 48 F-35B by 2025, 1 year later than previously promised (but at least now we have a real indication that the last 13 will be ordered and when they can be expected). The second operational squadron (809 NAS) was projected to start up in 2023. That could be in doubt now. If it is stood up then realistically even with trained personnel (which could be available) its not going to be operational until 2025.

The NAO report also clearly calls into question the likelihood of future buys to create a force of more than 48 at any time in the near future. Unless there is a sudden (and very unexpected) influx of cash in the next 2 years I think you can forget the possibility of the UK's F-35 fleet being greater than 48 until after 2030. With the spin up of the Tempest programme (as planned) the pressure on the Combat Air budget will also result in, at best, money for a small additional purchase after that point (Typhoon upgrades will be needed in this timeframe as well..). My money would now be on 1 x mothballed/reserve carrier, 1 x operational carrier with a total fleet of 48 F-35, with a small possibility of increasing it to 70ish in the late 20's/early 30s. And that's as good as it gets I'm afraid, anything else is relying too much on hope and prayers.

So....

If we're only going to get 48....should the budget and resource be shifted to the Royal Navy exclusively? We can't run a carrier air wing and a credible land based expeditionary force on a buy of 48.
I'd expect the question to be met with absolute horror by the RAF, but what other choice is there?

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby serge750 » 29 Jun 2020, 13:23

Thanks for the info Timmymagic,

Maybe not buying many more F53 will depend on( & money ) how well project tempest does ? I would actually like them just to buy 2-3 a year after 2023 for the next 20 -30 yrs, which would bring a very slow increase & replace earlier models, ( due to a harder life at sea ) and nearly add up to the UK commitment to buy 138, but the mod probably won't,

Not sure if they would mothball a carrier yet, maybe after the 2021 CSG deployment for QE, they will want to work up POW to full capacity aswell, so maybe after 2022 they will extend the rediness date for the second carrier?

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Timmymagic » 29 Jun 2020, 13:32

serge750 wrote:Not sure if they would mothball a carrier yet, maybe after the 2021 CSG deployment for QE, they will want to work up POW to full capacity aswell, so maybe after 2022 they will extend the rediness date for the second carrier?


PoW looks like it will be the initial carrier. But I suspect the 'readiness' level of the second carrier will be similar to one of the Albion Class. Ultimately, we're in a 'spoiling a ship for a 'happorth of tar' situation (its not a 'happorth of tar exactly..) we've gone to the trouble of buying 2 world class carriers, but now haven't the money to deploy a full airwing on one, the escorts to fully escort and perform other roles and the logistic support to support more than 1 temporarily.

The most upsetting thing is how close we've got to it...

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby seaspear » 05 Jul 2020, 05:29

Would the modifications outlined by Lockheed for SEAD roles for the f35 be included for the f35b
https://www.airforcemag.com/lockheed-to ... nses-role/
certainly, the timeline in batch 14 could be useful

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 05 Jul 2020, 05:44

seaspear wrote:modifications outlined by Lockheed for SEAD roles


The navy does not quite have the same blind faith in stealth as the AF (arrgh!) does:
"The contract, issued by Naval Air Systems Command on behalf of all F-35 users, says Lockheed will perform the engineering necessary to modify the aircraft to perform “full up” SEAD and DEAD. When the Air Force declared the F-35 operational in 2016, it described the F-35’s SEAD/DEAD suite as able to perform the mission in a “limited” fashion"

"The Navy plans to field its AGM-88E Anti-Radiation Guided Missile, a successor to the HARM anti-radiation missile, and the Air Force is considering the weapon, as well. The ARRGM" is also in the Italian inventory so they must be "absolutely delighted" about these developments.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Timmymagic » 05 Jul 2020, 10:08

seaspear wrote:Would the modifications outlined by Lockheed for SEAD roles for the f35 be included for the f35b
https://www.airforcemag.com/lockheed-to ... nses-role/
certainly, the timeline in batch 14 could be useful


Some of the modifications will, the ESM for example. But the SiAW and AARGM-ER munitions will not fit in the F-35B internal bay.

ArmChairCivvy wrote:The ARRGM" is also in the Italian inventory so they must be "absolutely delighted" about these developments.


Yes and No. The Italians have a mixed fleet so they'll need external carry for their B's. Which is fine as that is apparently the method of carry for standard AARGM, not internal. Thats not doing any favours for the aircrafts stealth though....

The modifications to the F-35 appear to be in favour of the AARGM-ER for internal carriage, which the Italians are not buying.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby seaspear » 05 Jul 2020, 11:05

Its likely the batch including the s.e.a.d will be sourced by the R.A.A.F as a replacement for the Growler

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby serge750 » 05 Jul 2020, 17:33

seaspear wrote:Its likely the batch including the s.e.a.d will be sourced by the R.A.A.F as a replacement for the Growler


Didn't the RAAF recently buy some FA18 superhornets wired up to be growlers aswell, how long are they going to be in service for, so with the F35 + growlers they will have a good capability !!!

Or maybe sell the Growlers to Canada aswell :o

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 05 Jul 2020, 20:46

serge750 wrote:with the F35 + growlers they will have a good capability

Agreed, Growlers creating havoc at distance and the stealthier ones reaching out to 'touch'.


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